Owners of shops, restaurants, pubs and night spots where recorded music is played to the public tend to place payment of copyright licence fees pretty low down their list of priorities. However, in one case that proved how very unwise that is, a nightclub owner was threatened with jail and hit hard in the pocket.
The owner had been the subject of an investigation by Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), the company that gathers in licence fees for distribution to musicians and music publishers. After he failed to respond to PPL’s invitation to pay for a licence, a court order was obtained against him, banning the public performance of recorded works in the PPL portfolio within the venue.
Further inquiries had revealed that his infringements of copyright had continued in breach of that order and, in those circumstances, PPL argued that he should be committed to prison for contempt. The High Court sentenced him to a three-month suspended sentence that would be activated if his defiance continued. He was also ordered to pay £5,177 in damages and £17,000 in legal costs.